Despite the setbacks, visit by minister is time for hope
News broke this week that the Ports Minister is planning to visit Dover shortly.
It is hoped that he will set out proposals for change and reform at the
Readers will recall that our port was put up for sale by Gordon
Brown when he was Prime Minister. He stuffed the Port of Dover into his car boot
sale along with a host of other assets. His aim was to seek a fast
The port sell off caused great anger in our community. We did not
want to see our key asset sold off to the French or whoever. People also felt
that the port had long pleased itself. That it had done little for the town. The
state of the port's waterfront was a source of concern to the community. Many
port workers had been dismissed and our community had little say or involvement
in the port's future.
So the matter of the port was never just about
stopping the previous Government's sell off plan. It was always about wider
change and reform. The key priorities included a say for the community on the
future of the port and the renewal of the seafront to provide high quality jobs
for people from our corner of Kent. In addition, it was important that the
people of the Dover community benefitted from the port. This is what the
People's Port campaign has been all about.
It is therefore my hope that
the Ports Minister will come to Dover to set out the Government's answers to
these key challenges. We need to see a community led port. A community say in
the boardroom. We need to see the ability to raise and apply funds to the
renewal of the port - to making Dover once again a jewel in the crown of the
nation. We need to see a benefit for the community from any changes that are
Many people tell me that it's taken a long time to get to this
point. Stopping the sell off took nearly three years. Moving forward reform has
taken over a year. This is absolutely true. It is mainly because there has been
significant opposition. The kind of political pigmies who like to indulge in
point scoring have had a negative impact. There are no two ways about it. They
have caused significant delay. They may well damage the settlement our community
gets at the end of the day.
I have been and remain heavily involved in
seeking the best possible settlement. The greatest possible community
involvement in the future of the port. The greatest possible community benefit.
The widest possible ambition and powers to regenerate, renew and transform the
port and the town. Because of the opposition we have had it won't be all that I
would have wanted. Yet I continue to work tirelessly to ensure we have the best
possible settlement for the betterment of our community.